Continuing the build-up to PAX East, Anet’s Andrew McLeod talks about his assigned area of GW2 game design: Crafting. McLeod takes the time to briefly guide us through the different Disciplines, the different ways to gather materials, and the crafting process.The article does not reveal too much depth, but it does reveal what seems like a pretty sound system in place. Hopefully not much of Anet’s favorite catch phrase will be necessary (to clarify, I mean “iteration”).
Essentially, there are 8 disciplines. 3 that deal with melee, ranged, or magical weapons; 3 that deal with heavy, medium, or light armors; and 2 auxillary: Jewelcrafting and Cooking. You can only have 2 disciplines at a time. There is an experience bar to gain more crafting skill in that discipline. There are no “gathering” disciplines. Simple stuff that comes pretty standard these days, right? Anet made some interesting tweaks to the normal, vanilla mmo crafting system.
First, and perhaps the least important tweak is the fact that you retain crafting skill and recipes if you change one of your disciplines. The cost of doing so increases with skill level. This could be handy if someone wants to maintain more than 2 disciplines. Initially, however I see people choosing the disciplines that will be most useful, earlier on in the games life. Let’s pick a weapons discipline for example. If you are a warrior, and you prefer to use swords, you might pick up the Weaponsmith discipline. Not only would you be able to craft said sword, but also upgrades that could be applied to it. “For instance, a weaponsmith can craft a handle which can be attached to melee weapons to give them a chance to poison enemies.”
On a side note, your choice, of course, dictates your ability. I think most people will probably go the route of picking disciplines that they can immediately use, ESPECIALLY early on in the game (probably within the first 6 months). I plan to be a guardian, thus I will most likely decide to go Weaponsmith and Armorsmith, given that jewelcrafter doesn’t have any unknown upgrade uses that can be applied to anything (such as the fabled “gem slots” in weapons/armor). Because of this belief, I predict that the produce from the 2 aux will be higher because people will be more inclined to produce things they can use, especially early on, and sell the rest, creating a market where cooked and jewelcrafted items will be in low supply, and thus in high demand, causing their auction cost to skyrocket. This is just a prediction though, feel free to call me out if I’m wrong.
Moving on to gathering resources. There are 3 ways to get them. Salvage kits are making a come back. Whether or not they are unique to the Guild Wars games is debatable, however, they are definitely returning as a viable option to get resources out of items you no longer need. Looting items from fallen foes is always possible, as it has always been present. As far as resource nodes go: they are un-gankable! This problem has plagued crafters all over the mmo universe. You find yourself running across a zone, finding each one, recently harvested or someone in the process of harvesting, just as you arrive, potentially wasting an hour or more to collect a few ingredients. Yes, we have all felt that rage. Fear no longer! Due to person-specific nodes where they wont deactivate or become consumed upon a player using them. However, this doesn’t mean you can use one node as many times as you like, it can still be consumed by YOU.
Now, onto crafting: a few new ideas are in place here, none of which inhibit your ability to earn a living. As in most mmo’s with a crafting system, you can recipe drops on enemies, as well as learn a few from trainers, however the vast majority will be “discovered.” To do this, you try out different combinations. McLeod explains, “When interacting with a crafting station, you are presented with an interface through which you can combine up to four types of materials. When the correct items for crafting an item are added to the interface, the resulting item can be crafted.If you haven’t previously crafted that item, you discover the recipe for that item, allowing you to easily view the correct combination to recreate the item.”
This has caused much controversy and confusion on the crafting process itself. Some believed this would just be something that stood in the way of progression, the idea being that it would just add the chore of looking up the recipe on a wiki, just so you would have to grind the 50 out to skill up, and what if when you try to discover a new recipe, only to waste those materials? Anet quickly responded to issues and concerns, which is impressive in the midst of huge reveals at PAX East.
In this follow-up post to discovering recipes, Andrew explains that, “The level of crafting skill you have in that discipline does restrict what you can discover – if you just learned how to craft weapons, you can’t immediately create legendary swords – you need to hone your skills by making more mundane swords first. However, you shouldn’t have to make twenty bronze swords before you can learn to make an iron one.” This resolves our craft-grinding problem while ensuring people don’t just skip the lower productions, what about the fact that people will just look up recipes and skip your discovery process? Why have a discovery system at all? McLeod covers this too: “Our goal is for the crafting system to be enjoyable and rewarding for players that enjoy crafting, without requiring players who don’t like it to have to spend a lot of time crafting, or feel that they need to learn a crafting discipline. These external resources can be used by players to bypass the discovery system, but if the player doesn’t actually enjoy crafting or discovering recipes on their own, we feel that this is a good thing.”
In yet another post, Anet responds to some other questions the community had. There were a few interesting ones that stood out to me. One of them was the fact that crafted items will not necessarily have the same power (not the attribute, but rather the influence or amount of attribute increase) as items dropped as loot from enemies, but will have different appearances for sure. I have heard a lot lately that many will be disappointed if Anet makes gear ALL about the stats and completely abandon gw1 approach to items: easy item level cap, but there are hard skins to find. This shows promise that they are working to bring together the two views so that gear is both appealing aesthetically and for its attribute value it holds.
Another portion of this post discusses crafting success and failure. According to Anet, there is no failure. “Crafting and gathering attempts never fail and if you try a combination of items that doesn’t make anything then those items will not be consumed.” As far as the other end of the spectrum goes, there will be a “critical success.” Other games have attempted this route, only to have their crafting industries crippled by markets that demand critical succession in order to sell their product. They put all of their time and hard-earned ingredients, only to have excess wasted materials and products that can not be sold since they do not have the higher attribute gift that critical successes give. This is a problem that discourages many from being a crafter to support their dungeon crawling activities and gear progression, however Arenanet takes a different approach to this idea, “There will be critical successes but they do not result in a better or different product. That sort of thing often results in it feeling like you’ve failed in crafting if you don’t get the critical success. Instead, on a critical success we will give the player a higher skill raise or ‘refund’ some of the materials used in creating the item.”
On a far, far side note, by the look of the crafting window in this screenshot, you can see how they are approaching the crafting UI as well as ALL UI as a whole. They are really putting all of their effort into cleaning up the screen and keeping everything neat and compact. In the case of crafting, their stuffing as much as they can into the “Hero” window pretty ingeniously.
Well there you have it. Gotta hand it to Anet for the quick community responses. My nerves are quelled and you might see me selling my wares, and wearing them, when the day comes.